Two Good Choices For Your Idea — Part Three

Editor’s Note: This post is the third in a series of basic steps to writing the magazine article. If you are wondering about my headlines. I know it’s a bit different but I’m changing the headlines and extending the parts since they are connected.  Check out the previous articles: Part One, Part Two.

Does the idea drive you wild? Does it drive you to begin researching or writing the article? The experience doesn’t always have to be so dramatic. Yet occasionally it is the case. You have to find a piece of paper or get to your computer and write this particular idea.  If you’ve not done much magazine writing (or even if you have done it), it’s perfectly OK to write the entire article—as long as you have several things in mind when you do it:

  • When you write, always keep the reader firmly in your mind. What will they take away from your article?
  • Who is the potential market for the article? Where will you try and get it published? Some publications read full manuscripts while others will only read query letters.
  • The most likely possibilities for magazines are ones that you often read and are intimately familiar with their contents and their readers (since you are one of these readers).
  • Keep in mind the standard length for these target publications. It will not help you to write 3,000 words if the longest article in the magazine is 1,000 words.  In general, magazines are using shorter articles.
  • In general, magazines are planning their content about four to six months ahead of their publication date. For example if you have a Valentine’s Day experience which you want to write, that’s OK. I’d encourage you to write it—but plan on it getting into print in some February 2006 publication.

There are several different basic types of magazine articles.  If you have decided to write the article, often one of the strongest types is the personal experience article. The story is written in first-person and you tell your personal experience—yet in a targeted way so you have a single key point or take-away from the reader. Other types of magazine articles include service articles (to promote or tell about a new consumer product or service), how-to articles (how to do some activity), personality profile article (often focused on some well-known person or someone who has an interesting life or life experience), “as told to” article (where you write in the first person tense of another person and write their story) and the celebrity interview (often done on assignment—more about this aspect in a future post).

And the two good choices? Your enthusiasm carries you to move ahead and write your idea. You get it on paper. It’s a good choice. The other good choice is to channel your enthusiasm about the idea into a one page letter called a query letter. I’m going to explain more about this choice—tomorrow.

3 Responses to “Two Good Choices For Your Idea — Part Three”

  1. violet Says:

    When writing for the children’s magazine / SS take-home market, another entity can spark ideas – theme lists (e.g. Pockets, Partners, Story Mates, Bible Pathways For Kids etc. use them). Submissions for particular issues usually have a deadline, and if articles are accepted, some places don’t pay until publication. But if you jump right on it after a theme list is made public, chances of selling are good.

  2. Rick Says:

    I write tech related articles…mostly for web sites. In my experience it can take months before the articles are published. I usually find out when someone sends me an email about an article or a check shows up. I would caution anyone writing articles to do careful editing. Don’t rely on the magazine, web site, etc. to catch mistakes in spelling on grammar.

  3. Terry Whalin Says:

    Almost anything in publishing–magazine writing or books–adult or children–involves time–some times lots of time. If you want something instant, you’d better self-publish (then you have a distribution problem) or simply have a lot of things going–then work on the ones that happen.

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